Detroit Auto Show: Audi wows with refreshed, lighter Q7 SUV

Audi's new Q7 weighs 700 pounds less than earlier iterations, making it the lightest SUV in its segment

Audi, affirming its commitment to the U.S. market by trumpeting a record sales year and a 15% increase in SUV sales in 2014, used the platform of the Detroit Auto Show to announce a new 2015 Q7 SUV.

The full size, 7-passenger SUV, said to be 700 pounds lighter than its predecessor and, at 4,398 pounds, the lightest SUV in its segment, is being touted by Audi as "a dynamic on-roader with great off-road qualities" and "a shining example of how we harmonize performance, driving pleasure and efficiency."

The Q7 will be powered by a gasoline or a TDI diesel engine, and will be available in late 2015 as a plug-in electric-diesel hybrid, outfitted with Audi's e-tron engine.

The company says its 3.0 TDI diesel engine makes 272 horsepower and goes from 0 to 60 in 6.1 seconds. The 3.0-liter turbocharged gas engine produces 333 horsepower and gets to 60 in 6.3 seconds.

The plug-in electric-diesel system will offer 373 horsepower and 516 pound feet of torque.

Audi told Detroit audiences that it had sold more than 2 million SUVs worldwide since entering the segment in 2006 with its first Q7. A 15% increase in SUV sales in the U.S. has made the company bullish on that model in this country.

Though executives did not identify specific models or platforms, Audi said it will introduce at least three new "top models" between now and 2017, fueled in part by $30 billion to be invested over the next five years.

The vehicle will come in 11 color combinations, four of them new for Audi, which says its new Q7 also offers more passenger space than earlier models.

The reveal got a good review from analyst Karl Brauer, of Kelley Blue Book.

“The luxury SUV market continues to thrive, and Audi’s redesigned Q7 should be able to ride this wave of sales with its lighter chassis and more advanced features," Brauer said. 

Twitter: @misterfleming

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